Doctorow Legacy Initiative Moves Forward

Ed Doctorow by his house on Broadview.

With the selection of sculptor Derek Chalfant, who was chosen following an international design competition, and with the essential support of Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who secured a $125,000 NYS grant, local efforts to honor the life and legacy of E.L. Doctorow are moving forward.

We held a press conference this morning to highlight these important milestones.  Here’s more information from the press release . . .

New York State Assembly member Amy Paulin and Helen Doctorow, widow of author E.L. Doctorow, will be at the New Rochelle Public Library on Thursday morning, February 23rd to announce a $125,000 grant from New York State that will support the Doctorow Legacy Initiative, honoring the acclaimed author in the city that inspired his best-known work, Ragtime.

The Doctorow Legacy Initiative will also introduce sculptor Derek Chalfant, whose proposal was selected in an international RFP process last summer. “We received 16 proposals from artists across the U.S. and as far away as Turkey and Spain,” said Theresa Kump Leghorn, President of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, who sits on the Doctorow Legacy Initiative committee. The proposed site is Huguenot Park, in the geographic center of New Rochelle: City Historian Barbara Davis notes “We believe this is the ideal location because of its proximity to Broadview Avenue, where the Doctorow family lived and which served as the inspiration for Ragtime.”

“E.L. Doctorow was a true American treasure and undoubtedly one of the most admired residents in New Rochelle’s history,” observes New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson.  “I look forward to acknowledging Ed’s remarkable life and accomplishments through a permanent installation, and I express my gratitude to the artists and community leaders who have spearheaded this important initiative.”

In addition to the statue the committee has supported a Heritage Award designation for the Doctorow’s former home on Broadview Avenue and the creation of educational programs in the schools. The committee — made up of representatives from the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence and the City of New Rochelle, plus City Historian Barbara Davis – is kicking off a public fundraising campaign to pay for landscaping and programming. The New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA), a 501 ©3 organization established in 1975, is the lead agency for this project; with NRCA acting as the fiscal agent, donors’ contributions are tax deductible. To make a tax deductible contribution with a credit card donors can visit www.newrochellearts.org or mail a check (with Doctorow Legacy written on the notes line) to NRCA, P.O. Box 211,  New Rochelle, NY 10804.

Edgar Lawrence “E. L.” Doctorow (Jan. 6, 1931 – July 21, 2015) was an author, editor, and professor, known internationally for his works of historical fiction, including Loon Lake, The Waterworks, The Book of Daniel, Welcome to Hard Times, The March and Ragtime (named one of the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century). He was also a beloved New Rochelle resident, and Mayor Noam Bramson says he received many calls from citizens asking the city to honor the author after he passed away in July, 2015. Mayor Bramson appointed a committee to consider the most appropriate way to honor Doctorow’s legacy.

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Watch New Rochelle on Fox 5

Mayor Noam Bramson in the Fox 5 Studio.

The President isn’t the only one who was on TV yesterday — yours truly appeared live on Fox’s 6pm newscast to talk about New Rochelle.  While I admit that the President’s mesmerizing, can’t-look-away train-wreck of a press conference probably has me beat on the ratings, perhaps I come out slightly ahead on the sanity meter.

The Fox segment focused on the emerging role of arts and technology in New Rochelle’s larger economic development efforts.  There’s a two minute taped intro, followed by a roughly five minute in-studio interview with me.

My mother says it went well, but she may be a little biased.  So please watch for yourself.

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Mary Tyler Moore, Rest in Peace

Laura Petrie may have been only a fictional resident of New Rochelle, but Mary Tyler Moore has always felt like one of our own.  We mourn the loss of an iconic American original.

Mary Tyler Moore, rest in peace.

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New Ro Plans Arts & Cultural District

arts-districtGreat communities celebrate the arts, and cultural energy can often be an important economic driver, too.  That’s why New Rochelle is working to encourage artists to live and work in our city, and why cultural uses are a central part of our broader revitalization efforts.

To advance these goals, we hope to create an Arts & Cultural District that encompasses portions of our downtown, along with adjacent neighborhoods along lower Webster Avenue.  Key components would include affordable live/work apartments, a performing arts center, and additional gallery space — all supported by zoning and overseen by a new management entity.  Some of these elements are already coming together, others will require more work.

Please take a look at this power point, presented last week to the City Council, in order to learn more.

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